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Wilson ready to publish

Commission report on independence due on Friday

Andrew Wilson is expected to unveil his long-awaited blueprint for Scottish independence at the end of next week.

Daily Business understands that the report is ready to be made public after a series of delays to the original timetable.

Mr Wilson (pictured), a former SNP high-flyer who is now a partner in a PR and public affairs consultancy, was tasked in September 2016 with leading a commission to produce a fresh economic prospectus for an independent Scotland.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wanted a clean break from the proposals in the Scotland’s Future paper produced in the run-up to the 2014 independence referendum.

The new report is expected to be presented in three parts and include options for a new currency, while reducing the Scottish government’s reliance on oil to support tax revenues.

Ironically, the report is published just as the oil price is recovering. It surged past $80 a barrel on Thursday, hitting a three and a half year peak. Global benchmark Brent crude rose 1% on the previous day’s trading to hit $80.07.

Fears that supplies could be dwindling have been driving up the price of oil, with some traders now speculating that Brent crude could hit $100 a barrel, just shy of where it stood when the much-derided Scotland’s Future paper was published.

However, Mr Wilson’s report is expected to take a more balanced view of oil revenues and the potential for huge swings in the price.

On the currency, Ms Sturgeon was reported to have said recently: “My party does not propose or support using the euro.

“The options the commission has been looking at are sterling in a currency union, sterling outwith a formal currency union, or a process that would lead to a distinctive Scottish currency over time.”

Daily Business reported nine days ago that the Growth Commission report was to be published ‘imminently’ and almost certainly before an SNP conference on 8 June. Expectations are that it will appear on Friday.

Mr Wilson co-founded Charlotte Street Partners after a career in the communications department at Royal Bank of Scotland.

His commission is believed to have taken a dispassionate approach to the economy’s prospects, taking greater account of the risks as well as the opportunities of independence.

Richard Leonard at Penicuik

Richard Leonard: SNP plan is ‘recipe for instability’ (photo by Terry Murden)


 

Update (20 May): The Growth Commission is expected to recommend that a separate Scotland would use a separate Scottish currency after a period of using sterling without a central bank.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said:  “Scotland needs real and radical change – looking forwards not back. 

“The economic and social transformation Scotland urgently needs will not come from another referendum on leaving the UK – on which the sovereign will of the Scottish people has been clearly expressed.

“It will come from radical Labour governments tackling poverty and inequality, extending public ownership and redistributing power; especially economic power from the few to the many. 

“The idea that a separate Scotland would seek to use the pound without a central bank behind it is a recipe for instability and is the economics of dereliction. We would give up our say over interest rate policy, exchange rate policy and inflation.

“Scotland does not need, and the people of Scotland do not want, this tired argument again. The SNP should recognise that, and focus instead on jobs, schools and hospitals.”



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